29 March 2012


a long long time ago, there was a baby beginning for us. there was the shock - i thought we were done! - and then five minutes later, there was the joy - we aren't done! - and then a few weeks later, there was a sharp burst of sadness and a more resolute we. aren't. done.

and then about a year or two later...came esmé.

about a week after i learned i was pregnant with that little thing, i slipped outside of lillie and grae's school. i don't remember much, but i do remember smiling hard and holding grae's mortified hand and walking while gasping to our land cruiser and driving us to the hospital. i limped gracefully in, smiled at the receptionist, and announced that i probably just broke my ankle. and could i please see someone about that, please? or did she have a cast i could throw on and we could just call it a day?

all the omanis in the waiting room covered their mouths and their smiles. dumb american. talk about drama. she thinks she's broken.

one man shook his head when we sat next to him and told me "you're not broken. you would be crying if you were broken."

well. after x-rays, they had to call the orthopedic surgeon. there would be screws and a plate and anesthesia. there were questions about how i had gotten to the hospital. did i have a driver or a husband waiting somewhere?

i told them i had driven myself. the surgeon looked at me and looked at grae and asked "how?" and grae replied "she just kept saying shit shit shit every time she had to shift."

nice moment.

wait. surgery? anesthesia? no no no! i had a brand new baby growing. and this one was the one! there was crying and a mortified grae and then a solution. i would have an epidural. given by a grinning doctor who announced, just prior to inserting the needle, that maybe i should reconsider. "are you sure you want me to do this? he asked. sure, i mumbled, trying to look away from the needle he was waving. "because i'm iraqi," he smiled. "and you're an american."

thank you, george bush.

i'm telling you all this to tell you this. after two surgeries and casts and crutches and showers given by my housemaid and monitored by a mortified grae and many, many months, everything worked out as they should. you know how this story ends.

but what i want to tell a few of my friends who could write the first paragraph in this post is that i feel you. i feel for you.

i spent the nine months of pre-esmé waiting for another miscarriage. one day, i was chatting with one of the other mothers at school and she said "karey! pat told my husband you were pregnant! i didn't know that!"

and i whispered "ohh. yeah. well. it's still a little early. we weren't really going to tell anyone for a while."

and she asked "how far along are you?

"six months."


but it is, isn't it? it's all insane if you think about it. how things are made. how things break. who fixes the unfixable. who stays and who cannot. it's a heartbreaking tightrope walk every minute of every day. don't look down, don't look up, just fix your eyes straight ahead. there's tomorrow. there's another chance. there's better, there's worse, there's richer and poorer and ice cream for dinner and warm socks fresh from the dryer and sunsets that make you want to stick around to see it come back up again. there will be those shit shit shit moments and a whole lot of mortified.

but then there will be the one day when you finally find what you've been looking for...love or babies or whatever...man, it all just seems to have a way of finding you.

i think that's what i wanted to tell you.

gimme. gimme. gimme.

28 March 2012


pat's back home, so this past weekend was spent mostly soaking him up and getting accustomed to having a boy in the house once again. that just usually involves less nudity and less ice cream.

on saturday morning, we woke up to a strange smell. esmé and i looked at each other with the exact same whaaa? look on our faces.

what is that smell? she asked. not a clue, i answered.

grae walked by us in a hurry to get downstairs, and shot a frown at us.

it's food.

oh, yes. that again.

did i ever tell you that my grandma used to make us pancakes in the shape of turtles or men riding bicycles or storm clouds or cars? they all looked like circles, i think, but the point was that she was trying. that was a lovely gift that i appreciate more now than i probably did then. isn't that always the way? elephant pancake here.

12 March 2012


when my sister was dying...i mean, truly dying...and the only appointments she took were from people who gave her a bath or medicine that wouldn't touch her pain plus those who wanted to give their goodbyes, we still giggled.

it was kind of funny the way they'd panic and fill the air with their own maladies. me you same same, do you know?

talks of summer colds and lumps that turned out to be nothing, thank god, and battles with a jackass of a love became conversation starters and enders when all lin probably wanted to talk about was manicures. or dinner plans. or her size four levis that she would have died to fit into once upon a time. but now that she was dying, they were too big. or something other than how we're all suffering.

that was a given, in her mind.

but, still, she'd coo and empathize and make everyone around her feel less pain. while she was suffering silently with her own. couldn't talk about that, though, could we?

all day i've complained about my root canal. it's the pain plus the fear plus the pissed-off feelings i have because i didn't cause this. he did.

but on my way home, armed with prescriptions for antibiotics and vicodin and a few cadbury eggs to be taken as needed, i saw a mini parade of wheelchairs. little kids being pushed in the sunshine. their heads to one side, their hands trying to stretch to touch the sky...just enjoying the moment. joy in all that pain.

if lin was next to me right now, she'd coo and tell me how sad she was feeling for me. root canals are the worst! she'd say. and i would laugh and ask as bad as cancer? and she'd laugh and probably swear and say even worse!

and we'd both know it wasn't true, but it was a much better thing to say than good-bye.

here and here.

07 March 2012


esmé ran into the kitchen carrying a bunch of letters in her head.

mom! does w-a-l-e spell whale?

kind of! well done, mémé!

and does p-i-k-l spell pickle?

almost exactly!

she took a deep, proud breath and looked around like mad trying to think of new things to spell. that little thing melts me. i've given up apologizing for how captivated i am by every little move she makes. the best way i can describe it is that she means it. and when you meet people like that...well...they're pretty unforgettable.

i said isn't it amazing? you're a speller now. and there's so many words out there just waiting for you. isn't that weird?

and she gulped and nodded and said yeah. sometimes i don't even know who i am, it's all happening so fast. makes me dizzy!

she pronounced it like dizz-ay and then ran off to connect eighteen chubby straws i just bought so she could drink her juice in the kitchen from the living room.

when she was born in chicago, pat was in oman and my sister was dying and lillie and grae were home with my mom. my other sister popped in to the hospital after work to see how i was doing, but the whole baby coming out of her little sister skeeved her out a bit.

we were chatting and one of the nurses - the one who kept announcing to everyone who entered the room that there's no father! - asked if she was going to stay.

ooh. i don't think so. my sister said. it's late and...

well, she's going to have the baby in about five minutes. the nurse shrugged.

jeanie looked at me like that was crazypants and said five minutes? why isn't she screaming?

and the nurse answered because this isn't a television show.

anyway. where was i? oh. when esmé came, the first thing i said to her was YOU'RE SO CUTE! and then the doctor took her to check her out while my sister followed and refused. to. leave. her. side.

the doctor said she was normal. jeanie turned to me and said she's remarkable!

the doctor said she had good reflexes. jeanie whispered he said she's very intelligent!

the doctor gave her an average new baby score. jeanie practically crowed she's perfect!

i don't know what i'm trying to say here. but her whole life...she's just been the best memory i've ever had. hmmm. i don't think that's exactly what i'm trying to say at all, but it'll have to do.

here here and here.

05 March 2012


mean people leave dents. they really do. and when you're feeling particularly soft, they draw blood.

especially so when you know the person and felt like she knew you.

i feel, of course, so bad about my reply to my hater last week. when pat finally caught up on my blog, he declared it nonsense and said i was better than that.

whoa, mister. that's how i got into trouble in the first place.

anyway. i will try to temper my smugness about my move to a third-world country. i won't relish in the one perk to which i'm most looking forward - a maid - but will instead gleefully anticipate parasites and dengue and a slew of scary insects, rodents, and scaled creatures whose bites have no known antidotes. yay. i could also write about my loneliness and emptiness and difficulty communicating with the ones who will be awake while i'm sleeping. not to mention most of the people around me. that would be funny stuff.

my most paralyzing fear is water, and this new place is going to be surrounded by it. sometimes, this water acts up. but hopefully a tsunami wouldn't happen at the same time a volcano erupts. that would not be serendipity.

would you want my life? not in a million years. but would i ever give it up? not in a million years.

so that's where we are.

actually, no. that's not where we are. a girl left a comment on my sister's story last night and it made me cry. full-on tears.

that's where i am. and that's why i'm here.

gimme. gimme.

01 March 2012

naming things...

lillie and grae have made the terms skeeve and aggro kind of popular at their school. i imagine many parents and skeeves will be pleased to see them get on a plane.

those aren't words! small people tell them with furrowed brows.

of course they are, they answer smugly. our mom's a writer.

well. not that kind of writer. i just like naming things.

last night, i was helping lillie and esmé fall asleep. they are roomies, with esmé on the bottom bunk so she can stall the midnight killers long enough for lill to make a getaway.

i. know.

i was playing scrabble on my phone, signed in as LiLlIe kATiE, and not really expecting anyone to take me seriously. but one lady started out with a 30-point word and started taunting.



you going?!

i kept the girlies up for an extra thirty just so they could see me crush this rude mother trucker with a score of 270-something to a little less than 80 before she exited. this son of a bucket monkey mouth. just...i was just so peeved that i was making up fake swears left and right and all the way around again.

lillie asked if she could use son of a bucket. i wasn't exactly sure. still not sure this morning.

a few days ago, i was cleaning a sink caked with toothpaste, hardened, and a mound of fresh rainbow suds. i growled at esmé and announced that in four months, i would never ever not ever clean a sink again. ever.

how come? she asked.

because we are getting a maid in indonesia. i snapped.

her face. man, it was like heaven was shining on her. she gasped and clapped and suddenly seemed to grow an inch taller with joy.

oh, mommy! what are we gonna name her?!

oh. dear. i guess she likes naming things, too?

gimme gimme.